Fortescue & Co. - Photographer
40 Bedford Hill, Balham, S. W., London, England
Far from home, this decorated veteran acting sergeant major appears to have been a member of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers (BRV) and was photographed with his wife in London, c.
The BRV was part of the Indian volunteer movement that was similar in intent to the rifle volunteer movement in Britain. Raised for local defense, their role was limited and they were
never intended for foreign or overseas deployment.
This acting sergeant major (his rank indicated by four chevrons surmounted by a regimental device) had seen extensive active service with the regulars in India prior to joining the BRV.
He wears the 1854 India General Service Medal with one clasp and the 1895 India General Service Medal with two clasps. He must have been amongst the countless British soldier who
aster taking their discharge in India, decided to remain and begin a new life. He was photographed with a woman who in all likelihood was his wife.
His uniform is the expected khaki drill with a cross belt befitting the BRVs rifle designation. He holds his Woseley pattern helmet on his lap.
How did a uniformed member of the BRV end up being photographed in London? It is possible that the couple had simply returned to England to visit family and friends but the possibility
exists that this acting sergeant major was taking part in the Coronation of Edward VII.
To determine if the BRV was represented at the Edward VII Coronation I consulted the Coronation Medal Roll. Several dozen Indian volunteer units sent representatives to the
coronation in London, usually a single man, most often an NCO. The volunteer attendees were listed by rank, name, and unit. Looking over the three pertinent pages of the roll revealed
that one member of the BRV did attend the Coronation. His name was recorded as J. G. Laing with his rank being listed as Volunteer which I assume was the same as private. This would
seemingly rule out this man being Laing.
|Below left: A detailed scan of the Acting Sergeant Major's collar badges. Although somewhat blurred the resemblance to the badge of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers is
evident. Below right: The collar badge of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers. Photo: National Army Museum.
|Below: The photograph's reverse side showing the subject's dedication to an unknown recipient. Unfortunately, they failed to record their names for
posterity. Additionally, another hand added "East Coast Rifle Volunteer". This I believe is inaccurate. While the East Coast Rifle Volunteers wore
similar horn shaped collar badges, the badge center was distinctly different that that pictured above.